A Widget (WJT) is marketed as a Weird Japanese Thing, relatively offbeat compared to what is considered mainstream or popular. This has become more inclusive as anime and manga have developed a more mainstream presence, but usually exploits culture differences. The Widget Series often consists of Surreal Humor or a Gag Series.
Sometimes they have small, short releases to test the audience, although they may have a guaranteed viewing among otaku.
Japanese cultural differences are the reason this trope exists and the reason it's not more popular. Japanese storytelling conventions embrace a number of elements that are much less commonly found in media produced by most other societies – some common examples include extreme absurdist humor (with a particular penchant for untranslatable puns), a fascination with gender-bending, and a fondness for ambiguity and open-ended conclusions. Simply put, Japanese culture can be refreshing to an outsider, but too much may cause a feeling of overload.
Until around the introduction of Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball to American pop culture in 1996, most anime was out of the American mainstream, with only a (very) few exceptions, principally ones that were and are considered to be of extraordinary quality in storytelling or artistry (such as AKIRA) – and every anime could be considered a Widget Series. Or something worse. Incidentally, even now many Japanese series are never ported over precisely because the original creators know it's weird and don't think there's a large market for it.
A weird series doesn't have to be Japanese to qualify as a Widget: some European, North American or Australasian series, like the ones from the examples below, are weird enough to compare with their Japanese brethren. Terms you'll likely see in this page include:
WTF (A Weird Thing from France)
W(H)AT (A Weird (Humorous) American Thing)
Wabbit (Weird British Thing)
Wicket (Weird Canadian Thing)
WART (Weird & Awkward Russian Thing)
STANZA (Strange Thing from Australia/New Zealand/Australasia)
EIEIO (Excessively Irish Example of Intentional Oddity)
WST (Weird Scandinavian Thing) and WIT (Weird Icelandic Thing).
PEGS (Peculiar & Eccentric German Subject)
If it doesn't make sense in its own culture, it's most likely a case of What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?. This trope may sometimes (but not always) overlap with Cliché Storm. Not to be confused with the 1990s animated series Widget The World Watcher, which despite the name isn't quite weird enough to be a Widget Series. See also Values Dissonance and Humor Dissonance.
Note: Keep in mind that this trope is cultural, and is subject to the aforementioned Values Dissonance; what may seem normal or only marginally strange to one culture may come off as mind-blowingly weird to another, and vice versa. If an example here strikes you as not as unusual as the entry makes it out to be, you may want to take it to the discussion page instead of instigating an Edit War.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
It would honestly be easier to list the works that don't fall under this trope, but these ones really stand out.
Akikan! is a series about about empty soda/juice cans doing battle to determine whether steel or aluminum cans are superior, for the standardization of cans into one format, strengthening the industry. Oh, and the cans take the forms of cute girls in strange outfits...
And Saint Young Men by the same author, which is about Jesus and Buddha sharing an apartment in modern-day Japan.
Axis Powers Hetalia (and Hetalia: World Series): World history + countries turned into impossibly cute/hot guys + Ho Yay = this show (especially the English dub, in which most, if not all, of the dialogue is more risque than what the Japanese version has).
While Bakemonogatari is probably still bizarre in Japan, the religion/mythology of Japan at least let the original audience understand things like the crab gods and lost cows. And the puns. Oh god, the puns...
Black★Rock Shooter: Let's get this straight. We have the story starting in a Mental World with a Stripperific outfitted girl fighting other dream versions of girls, no clear heroes or villains, just some girls fighting each other for some reason, and this is before we meet the YandereWheelchair Woobie, Kagari, whose favorite hobby seems to be chucking gross-colored macaroons at people in both the real and Mental World. And an older woman who serves everyone coffee, but calls it "dirty water" when asked if she likes it. Then there's some Fractured Fairy Tale about a bird soaking up rainbow colors until it turns black and dies. And the color of the bird the hero most admires is actually the black dead one.
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo: the characters confuse their enemies into submission, confusing the viewer in the process. The main character is a Kenshiro knock-off with a blonde afro who uses "fist of the nose hair", and the enemy is an evil empire that wants to shave everyone's head. That covers the first couple of episodes, and it gets weirder.
Cat Soup, which is considered to be weird even by the standards of weird Japanese things.
Chinko No Tsubuyaki is a manga about boys who have talking penises. Talking. Penises. This one is so bizarre that it's often brought up in internet conversations purely as a benchmark of "how weird can Japanese media get."
Cromartie High School is a parody of old shounen shows, about a normal(ish) guy that starts going to school full of "badasses". And a gorilla. And a robot (that doesn't realize he's a robot). And a mute man that looks strangely like the deceased lead singer of Queen.
In Date A Live, there are girls who can cause massive damage to the world just by appearing. And killing them is just about impossible. The solution? Date them. And the Dating Sim-like choices that occasionally pop up as you do so are not decided by you, but by a group dedicated for this very purpose? An idea that only Japan can come up with.
Excel♥Saga. The American release even has the title written in faux-Japanese letters.
From the same people: Puni Puni Poemi. Two OVA episodes of sheer insanity. The 'magical girl transformation' involved shoving a knife up the rectum of a talking dead fish.
FLCL. It's pronounced 'fooly cooly' (not even the characters know the meaning), and is about a crazy woman who beats a young boy with a guitar to summon giant mecha out of his head so she can kill them, in between hitting him with her Vespa just for fun.
Gintama. Its humor relies on a lot of Japanese puns, references to Japanese pop culture, Japanese-style humor, and a basic knowledge of famous historical Japanese figures. Though later on they also have gags like "Willis Smith" and sneezing the name "Mai-ke-ru Jackuson!" And a whole lot of in-universe running gags and random Widget Series staples. Not to mention that it has two Star Warsparodies
Gloom Party takes the cake. It's a yonkoma series that the English publishers, DMP, knew would be incomprehensible to an American audience, since a large amount of the gags are Japanese puns, or refer to Japanese phenomena. Therefore, they added the words How to "read" manga to the title, made sure that the American edition contained only the strips that Western readers wouldn't understand, and added a short explanation of the joke to every strip, turning it into a guide to incomprehensible Japanese humor.
Haré + Guu: A boy and his mother live in the jungle, until the mom adopts a Humanoid Abomination in the form of a little girl who has another world in her stomach. Weirdness ensues.
Hayate the Combat Butler, a series about a boy whose parents stick him with an enormous debt to the Yakuza, so he tries to abduct a little girl and ends up as her butler. The series also features aliens, robots, ghosts, demons, talking animals and involuntary time travel.
Hentai Kamen. It's about a martial artist slipping a pair of panties on his head (by accident) and transforming into... a guy with underwear on his head.
Story wise, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure starts out as a fairly normal take on a zombie/vampire tale, albeit with some definite twists. But then there's the names, which almost all reference western rock and roll (Robert E. O. Speedwagon, Tompeti, Oingo and Boingo, etc.). And the art, which largely consists of muscular men in elaborate clothing striking model-esque poses. And some crazy character designs, such as Jotaro, whose hat seems to morph into hair about halfway around his head. Then in part 2, Battle Tendency, the cyborg Nazi, shows up and the craziness just grows exponentially. Part 3, Stardust Crusaders, is both the story arc where things really start to become totally insane, and the only part of the manga officially released in the US. America even got the Capcom fighting game based on Stardust Crusaders, which is the origin of the ZA WARUDOmeme.
Joshiraku: cute girls having quirky conversations about inconsequential subjects in the dressing room of a rakugo theater = rakugo being a uniquely Japanese form of comic storytelling by a single performer sitting still in the middle of the stage with only a fan and a piece of cloth as props.
Kamen no Maid Guy – that's Masked Maid Guy in English. A gigantic masked sociopath in a maid uniform terrorizes an absurdly well-endowed samurai schoolgirl for her own good. You just don't get that particular kind of "huh?" anywhere else on Earth.
Kill la Kill - A teenage girl dons a Sentient StripperifficSailor Fuku while wielding a giant half-scissor blade to fight her way through a high school ruled with an iron fist by its Absurdly Powerful Student Council in a post-apocalyptic world where clothing is fascism, all to find out who killed her father. And it's taken totally seriously in universe.
Kujibiki Unbalance is part parody, part homage to every anime genre Japan has produced. The resulting mix of postmodernism and Clichestorm is strange, especially to viewers who don't know the genres in question.
The Legend of Koizumi. World leaders use extreme high-stakes Mah-Jong to decide everything from deals to papal elections to SAVING THE WORLD! Everything is over the topshounen, playing all of the stereotypes of nations and their leaders entirely straight.
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi. Basically, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle on crack. Two kids jump through distorted, Alternate-Universe versions of their town trying to get back home. Each of them parodying a different cliche of Anime, Otaku, and Japanese culture in general. To people not familiar with Japan, the series is pure, incomprehensible randomness.
Mawaru-Penguindrum: Two brothers must find a mystery object known as the 'Penguindrum' for an entity residing in a penguin-shaped hat that is possessing and keeping alive their Ill Girl sister, in company with small cartoonish penguins that only they can see. And then the copious amounts of Mind Screw start.
The basic premise of My Bride Is a Mermaid is explainable (boy gets saved by mermaid; must marry her to keep up The Masquerade), but the execution of the premise is nothing short of insane, involving Mermaid Yakuza, The Terminator (really), and more Art Shift than one would think could be crammed in.
Nerima Daikon Brothers, from the director of Excel♥Saga. An anime musical series about farmers who want to become musicians but are constantly low on cash. One of the characters falls in love with a panda. Aliens appear.
The fact that One Piece is so insanely popular in Japan, but rarely becomes more than a Cult Classic even among manga in other countries, is probably one of the things that cement this trope.
Ouran High School Host Club relies heavily on Japanese puns and wordplay, and might be a little bit strange to someone with little or no understanding of either.
Oyasumi Punpun - a mute little bird (think Woodstock but three feet tall), drawn in line style while everyone else is drawn realistically, tries to comprehend his bad home life and the behaviour of people at his kindergarten. Occasionally, he summons God for answers; God has an afro and is getting tired of the same questions.
Pani Poni Dash!. It's about a school full of very weird students. And a ten year old MIT grad teacher. And a cat who says he's God. And a bunny who only exists to be abused. And space aliens who have little to no impact on the plot except to make Star Trek jokes. And a class rep who defies all logic or sanity. And apparently it's all shot on a soundstage and the cinematographer is very bad at hiding it.
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is surrel both plot-wise and design-wise, using Western animation art styles for the most part. Namely in the style of 90's American cartoons that were WHAT series in their own right.
Patalliro is an old-school example. It's a very weird shoujo comedy with BL elements that started in the late 70s and is still running today.
Potemayo. A boy finds an over-possessive moe-blobin his fridge. And he calmly adopts it, naming it after what he had in the fridge. Then another one appears, except this one is a Tsundere, scythe-wielding moe-blob that Beam Spams from the worms on the side of its head, and leaves gifts of charred, bleeding animal carcasses on the desk of one of the boy's classmates. That's the first episode.
Seven of Seven: A normal schoolgirl is subjected to Cloning Blues when she's split into seven copies of herself... who then all try to go after the boy she was interested in. Eventually, they take turns being the 'real one'.
And it was created by the guy who directed Giant'. Freakin' 'Robo.
Super Milk Chan. A five year old girl lives in a house with her robot maid and complains about all the bills she has to avoid paying to her Camp Gay landlord. She's a superhero but she constantly blows off the President (of Everything), who attracts flies. That's just the beginning of the insanity of this show.
Ultimate Teacher is beyond description. The most normal thing about it is that the school is so bad, there's a graveyard for dead teachers. Most of the 50 minute OVA is a giant Big Lipped Alligator Moment. Zombies? Check. Men wearing girls' gym shorts? Check. Guy who fights by flinging quarters? Check. That's not even getting into the genetic experimentation. It cannot be quantified.
The World God Only Knows. There is no possible way an idea like that could have come from anywhere but Japan, plain and simple.
Yakitate!! Ja-pan is a show/manga about bread. No, it does not teach you how to make the bread (one exception for bread-in-a-rice cooker). It focuses on tournament-style battles between bakers. And puns. Lots and lots of delicious Japanese pans.
Madman. It's hard to place it in one particular genre or the other. Usually, it's every genre all at the same time.
Savage Dragon is too violent and sexual to be a typical superhero book but way too fun to be a serious adult comic. Some of the villains this series has seen include a man who fires human waste with enough force to decapitate, a deadly Flying Brick with a chicken head, and a cute 3-foot tall warlord that takes over entire galaxies (and was friends with the hero's adopted daughter for a time). Then we have strange twists on expies of Doctor Doom or Captain Marvel. Then we have the other end of the spectrum with characters like Darklord and the Fiend who are very disturbing and deadly.
Never before has Canada's largest city been so quirky. Scott Pilgrim includes but is not limited to lesbian half-ninjas, psychic super vegans, bionic arms, Sexy Demon Hipster Chicks, abilities to manipulate pure sound using sheer determination, angry Chinese fathers with katanas protecting their obsessive daughters, and gay men as far as the eye can see (though the book focuses on a heterosexual couple).
Herman Hedningnote lit. Herman the Heathen but called Marwin Meathead in English editions. , a wierd Reference Overdosed swedish comic with the sickest sence of humor you are likley to encounter. One has to wonder what the hell is going on inside Jonas Darnell's head.
The genre of superhero comics is WAT to many people around the world. After all, one can stand a masked vigilante fighting crime, a wizard dealing with demonic incursions, or a mad scientist threatening the world from his faraway lair. Perhaps even a flying man wearing a cape and helping people. But to see all of them at once, teaming up to fight off an alien invasion? Only in America.
EIEIO (Excessively Irish Example of Intentional Oddity)
A Note: The Irish film industry is very small, even the large scale local films are only comparable to most US Indies. As a result, most domestic films don't bother toning it down for foreigners, and just make movies for ourselves. Expect profuse swearing, Grey and Gray Morality, a propensity for offbeat characters and very, very dark humour.
Waking Ned Divine: The eponymous Ned dies of a massive heart attack after winning the lottery. The local town bands together to cover up his death in order to claim his winnings. Hilarity ensues. Also, a very old man rides a motorcycle while very, very naked.
The Butcher Boy: A young lad in rural 1960's Ireland loves nothing more than playing with his best friend. Then his mother commits suicide and he slowly starts going mad. As a result he's sent away to a borstal, where he has visions of a foul mouthed Virgin Mary, played by Sinead O'Connor, before being molested by a priest. Eventually he escapes, and returns home to his abusive alcoholic father, before finally losing it completely and going on a murder spree, having hallucinated the world being destroyed by nukes and being repopulated by humanoid flies. This is a comedy.
The Guard: An over the top homage to 70's Dirty Harry-esque, mismatched partner Cop Movies ... set in small town Ireland. The eponymous Guard (Irish Cop) takes acid, molest corpses, hires prostitutes, insults his American counterparts, buys his dying mother cocaine and contracts an STD. By comparison, the drug dealers he's taking down discuss existentialism and morality, and there's an off kilter scene about gay IRA operatives.
''A Film With Me In It": a film about a guy who really wants to be in a film but has been generally unlucky in his life, who keeps ending up with people being killed in incredibly incriminating accidents around his flat while he and his best friend keep proposing film scenarios in order to figure out how to get out of their predicaments.
Ginger Snaps - Werewolves as a literal metaphor for puberty. Shooting up drugs (well, wolfsbane) is the only way to temporarily slow the transformation. Its two sequels ramp up the weirdness even more.
Widget (Weird Japanese Thing)
The Takashi Miike film Gozu is a mixture of this and J-Horror making it even more weird and surreal.
Takashi Miike in general is like this The Happiness of the Katakuris, which is (vaguely) like Fawlty TowersmeetsThe Rocky Horror Picture Show. The scene where the dead rise from their grave for a karaoke number on the value of life must be seen to be believed...For more Miike weirdness, though, make a beeline for Dead Or Alive, a convoluted Yakuza melodrama bookended by some of the craziest stuff you've ever seen.
Funky Forest: First Encounter is a surrealist collection of vignettes, some of which interact with one another and none of which make much sense at face value. For a taste of the madness, head here.
David Lynch. Twin Peakswas absurdly popular in Japan when it first aired. It still maintains a much larger and more fanatical following there than among fans from anywhere else, to the point that many Japanese fans were surprised to discover that it was created by an American, as it was considered to be "very Japanese" in style and tone.
The Western is a Weird American Genre (WAG). It's so deeply rooted in how other countries perceive America that we even have a trope about it. Ironically, many of the classic Westerns (well, from 1964-1974, anyway) were made by Italians.
Delicatessen is about a butcher in post-apocalyptic France murdering the janitors he employs in his apartment building and serving them in his shop, and when his daughter falls in love with one of the janitors, she enlists the help of a team of militant vegetarians to save him.
The City of Lost Children is about a mad scientist who lives on an oil rig offshore from an unspecified Steampunk city abducting children so he can steal their dreams; and when he abducts the little brother of a circus strongman, the strongman and a little girl from an orphanage go on a quest to get him back. And it involves a brain in a tank.
Amélie is about a woman attempting to make her neighbors' lives better by taking a garden gnome from one of them and taking pictures of it vacationing around the world, tricking an abusive greengrocer into thinking he's insane, and escorting a blind man to a train station giving him vivid descriptions of the surroundings.
Micmacs is about a video store clerk falling in with a clan of weirdos who live in a junkyard after he gets shot in the head, and then him and the clan taking revenge on the two biggest weapons manufacturers in France (one of whom created the landmine that killed his father, the other one which made the bullet that he got shot with) via a procession of Home Alone-style antics.
Last Year at Marienbad is a French film that lacks a traditional plot, backstory, named characters...etc. It is VERY arty.
The "mo lei tau" genre of Hong Kong films, the most well-known purveyor being Stephen Chow. "Mo lei tau" roughly translates to "nonsense talk" and consists of madcap, slapstick and over-the-top humor.
The weird German movie Sei zärtlich, Pinguin (Be gentle, penguin)
The strange Spanish movie Amanece, que no es poco (At least it's dawning). The title itself refers to the last scene, where the sun rises.... from the WEST. Cue Title Drop from the no-longer-caring main characters.
Mystics In Bali. Oh lord, Mystics in Bali! It's basically a WINDOT, a.k.a. Weird Indonesian Thing. Even weirder is that a lot of it is actually based on Indonesian mythology!
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a surreal, allegorical 1970 Czech movie set perhaps in the 1800s about a 13-year-old girl's sexual awakening. Seemingly, every character who interacts with her is infatuated with her and/or a vampire. Or secretly her parents. Cut to cheery Gainax Ending.
Judging by the trailers of movies like Obonsam Besunote Devil May Cry, may or may not be a ripoff of the game, 2016, and The Godfathernote It seems that Don Corleone is a zombie now., the entire movie industry of Ghana seems to run on this trope. It's a SWAG (Surreal and Weird Arriving from Ghana). And special mention to Nkrato for this comment:
"I was expecting the silly karate, CGI monsters, and lots and lots of talking. Like any good Ghana Film. But nothing, absolutely nothing could prepare me for the cat mouth missile at 0:44"
Practically the entire resume of music video and film director Michel Gondry.
Valhalla Rising: a Danish/UK film about a mute one-eyed Norseman and a young boy, both slaves, who kill their pagan masters and join a bunch of Crusaders trying to get to Jerusalem. However, the crew gets lost and end up in America, where they all go crazy and get killed by mostly-unseen natives or each other. The film has very little dialogue, with long stretches of almost complete silence.
The Complete World Knowledge trilogy, which consists of books with Long Titles, filled to the brim with "100% false" facts, though the appendices in the paperback versions acknowledge the fact that occasionally a truth manages to end up in one of them by accident. In addition, the page numbering does not restart in later books in the series, instead picking up where the previous one left off. The second book also serves as a page-a-day calendar, which among other things reveals an Escalating War of bizarre precipitation between Richmond, Virginia, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the late 1970s. This would be classified as a WHAT.
Wicked! and Deadly! by Morris Gleitzman and Paul Jennings are two children's series revolving around the bizarre, including a killer superadvanced sheep army, and immortality-conferring tea. Anything by Paul Jennings generally counts.
Bizarro Fiction, as a genre, is comprised hugely of WATs, wabbits, wickets, and STANZAs as of this writing. However, multi-language examples are slowly rising.
I Survived a Japanese Gameshow is a WHAT version of a Widget. The American contestants participate in a Japanese game show, and are eliminated one at a time.
Pushing Daisies. It involves an explosive scratch-and-sniff card, Paul Reubens, an author of adult pop-up books (all in the same episode), a red-and-white striped morgue, and a very American '50s Retro Universe.
The Monkees is filled with enough randomness and absurdity to qualify, especially during the second season, where they were either stoned out of their minds or didn't care any more and ad-libbed. ”Frodis,” anyone? The subsequent filmHead cranked it up a few notches.
Beakmans World. A zany-haired scientist in a neon green lab coat, his perky female assistant, a man in a rat suit, two penguins who watch the show from their home in the South Pole, famous dead guys, and a kooky and fun atmosphere to learn about science.
Bibleman comes across as this to anyone who isn't American.
The Aquabats! Super Show! is often incredibly ridiculous, and indeed seems to revel in it. Laser guitars, cartoons randomly popping up, and odd plotlines often involving a rather strange Monster of the Week are only the start.
Widget (Weird Japanese Thing)
In-universe, 30 Rock shows a nonsensical musical soundbyte featuring Jenna smiling, winking, and laughing at the camera. She then says (out of the commercial) that she has no idea how it advertised Tokyo University.
Some have said that the problem with Iron Chef USA (the first American adaptation, featuring William Shatner) was that the creators assumed the original was only popular for laughing at wacky foreigners, so they didn't take it seriously. ICA occasionally pokes fun at the Kayfabe of the show (according to Alton, there are several Kitchen Stadiums, at least one of which is in space), but otherwise takes it seriously as a competition between culinary masters.
Dotch Cooking Show was an even more intense cooking game show that pitted two amazing-looking dishes against each other and a panel of seven choosing which dish to eat at the end of the episode. Each dish had its own crazy-awesome special ingredient. At the end, the people who voted for the winning dish got to eat it and the chef who made the losing dish had to (oh, darn the luck) eat it alone. Oh and the losers are forced to watch the winners eat as they get nothing at all. This show was amazing.
SASUKE and Kinniku Banzuke, which air in the US and Australia as Ninja Warrior and Unbeatable Banzuke, respectively. G4 heavily plaued up their status as wacky Japanese shows. Not only did they throw "ninja" into the first show's name, but the on-camera host who appears before and after segments on Unbeatable Banzuke, who only speaks Japanese and needs to be subtitled? He was the host hired by G4 solely for the American version.
Brain Wall, known to many American YouTubers as simply "Human Tetris". It lost much of its widgety charm when adapted for Fox as Hole In The Wall.
The six-episode variety show Vermilion Pleasure Night, which The Other Wiki compares to a Japanese version of SCTV. Recurring skits included a drama about a family of mannequins, a spaceship boarding house with a tortured alien, and a bunch of actresses being Barbie dolls. These are then interspersed with one off stories about cannibal cuisine, bondage nurses, and things that just take a sharp left turn halfway through a given sketch. This show hits you with weird repeatedly and never lets you up.
One Japanese show called Susunu! Denpa Shonennote Don't Go For It, Electric Boy! took an unsuspecting volunteer (who they told was going on an "important show-business related job", but that was it), then had him live in a small apartment, naked, with no supplies other than a pen and magazines. Then he had to live off of prizes won by magazine sweepstakes until he had the value of a specific amount of money. All this time, the guy was on TV and didn't know it, since he had been told it would be broadcasted after he was done. It seems almost pointless to mention that this is something that could only exist in Japan; in many countries the makers of the show would probably face criminal or civil penalties, and in the US (and maybe elsewhere, but especially the US), they'd be sued six ways from Sunday.
Within Sentai itself, there's Battle Fever J, which has bizarre costumes and a lot of dancing. However, it introduced the first robot in Sentai, and was thus the first Super Sentai. Toei eventually added Goranger and JAKQ into the ranks of Super Sentai, possibly to ensure that Battle Fever J wasn't the first one on the list.
Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger in the vein of the above, features Samba transformations and two villains who represent the emotions Joy and Happiness, with many of their antics qualifying as killing with kindness. Also the Red Ranger appears to be The Kid-Appeal Character.
LazyTown. The least bizarre thing is the pink hair on the central character.
WTF (Weird Thing from France)
Téléchat, a French-Belgian puppet show from the 80's. The series is a parody of TV news presented by a black cat with an arm cast (which he uses as an all-purpose box) called Groucha and his female counterpart, an ostrich called Lola. The news (which Groucha does with the help of a sentient microphone) relates the life of "gluons", supposedly the smallest things in existence. Sometimes Lola will also have a talk round, with a fork and a spoon (with human faces!). There are also nonsense commercials with a green orangutan in the jungle, who always manages to screw up the take, to the chagrin of the spot's director; and Léguman, a parody of Japanese Sentai shows. Because of its quirkiness and freakish ambiance, this show scared a whole generation of French kids, who will tell you that it still gives them some feeling of dread if they try rewatching the show. An outsider wouldn't necessarily be traumatized, but would get that this thing was weird in a distinctly French (well, Belgian and French) way.
La Vie des Botes was a French sitcom about a robot family and talking objects (just like Pee-Wee's Playhouse), which aired regular cartoons between the live-action segments. The channel, TF1, put many hopes on this project (because it was a co-production with Canada, some designers from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Alien worked on it) but it wasn't successful and it stayed for just one year; today, very few people remember this show.
Wicket (Weird Canadian Thing)
In the same vein as Téléchat, we have Téléfrançais, a Wicket produced by TVOntario for the purpose of teaching French to English-speaking children that features, among many other oddities: a talking pineapple puppet that lives in a junkyard and looks like a rejected Furby, a fourth-wall breaking annonceur, and Les Squelettes, a musical group consisting of singing, dancing, instrument playing skeletons who will occasionally perform a number on the outside of a moving plane. It was also made in The Eighties.
Nanalan'. Another Wicket for kids. A green little girl with a speech impediment visits her nana and plays in the backyard. For some reason, us Canadians thought that both this and Téléfrançais were educational. Have fun trying to find out what her dog's name is.
Banzai was a British parody of Japanese game shows, deliberately designed to be strange and incomprehensible. The show's greatest stunt? Pitting several ventriloquists against each other in the Puppet Petrol Pump challenge - the vents themselves had to put petrol in a car blindfolded, and the puppets had to shout to tell them when to stop. Closes to Â£20 worth won.
Anything by Monty Python, to the point where much British comedy is considered "Pythonesque" by non-Brits whether or not it's actually similar to Python's material.
Black Books. Dave "Mouse Ears" Smith, pesticide by coffee machine, and "Then it's left... at the dead badger."
Doctor Who veers off into Wabbit territory every so often, especially when they make jokes based around British humor or accents. (The "lots of planets have a North!" joke, for one, only works if you understand what a Northern English accent sounds like.)
One episode had Rose Tyler trying to get the Queen of England to say "We are not amused." Hilarious for British audiences (and probably several Western audiences familiar with that real-life meme) but to Asian audiences, it would be odd-sounding and out-of-context.
Bananas in Pyjamas, a kids' show about giant anthropomorphic bananas. That wear pajamas. And get cheated nearly every episode by the giant anthropomorphic rat that runs the corner shop. Oh, those crazy Aussies...
The issue of their inherent desire to chase and hug giant living teddy bears.
Round the Twist. Plots include a skeleton's curse that forces the cursed to end every sentence with "without my pants" (from the episode of that title), gum leaves that can transfer injuries to anyone who can hear a song played on them ("The Gum Leaf War"), a ghost haunting an outhouse ("Skeleton On The Dunny"), and superpower-conferring underpants ("Wunder Pants")...in the first season. It gets weirder: Overarching plots including music played by ghosts who are trying to save their lighthouse, two ghosts wanting to save their loved ones from accidentally crashing on a boat thanks to human error 100 years ago, and doing so by possessing all of the regulars, including a young girl possessing a teenage boy and a viking love book.
From the creators of Italian Spiderman comes Danger 5. Danger 5 are an international team of spies charged with fighting against the Nazis and, ultimately, assassinating Hitler. This is a difficult task, as the Nazis are armed with dinosaurs, diamond women soldiers, and various other useful weapons. It's also set in an alternate 1960s, despite being about World War II.
EIEIO (Excessively Irish Example Of Intentional Oddity)
Father Ted, while produced and funded by the British Channel 4, was written and created by two Irishmen, Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, and all of the actors, characters, locations, and crew were Irish. Collectively had the entirety of England, Wales, and Scotland asking "what does feck mean exactly?"
Weegeet (Weird German Thing)
Bernd the Bread: depressive, pessimistic, box-shapped Bread from a kids show whose hobbies include staring at his ingrain wallpaper and collecting TV test cards... Just look at his profile!
By far the worst offender is Dir En Grey. Seriously. Though they've abandoned their VK roots, they still easily qualify thanks to their weird sound, their singer's great vocal range, their sometimes INCREDIBLY heavy songs, even for Death Metal standards, and by far the best reason... Mind Screw. Tons of it.
Go on YouTube and search for "Halfby". You will not be disappointed.
When the genre first emerged around 1974, punk rock was a totally alien phenomenon. Really, think of mainstream Seventies rock. Now, think of Johnny Rotten. Even more so, the really early bands that most people skip over. Specifically:
The New York Dolls crossed glam into cross-dressing.
German "kraut/kosmiche" band Neu! released the single "Super" in 1972. Now compare it with what was going on in Britain, like, say, Yes.
Clevelanders The Electric Eels would wear biker jackets adorned with safety pins and swastika badges just to provoke their audiences' disgust. For added confusion, they would double-bill with The Styrenes, who were often accompanied by several dancers.
London's Subway Sect looked like a gang of delinquent clerical workers and taped themselves performing Molière plays for kicks. Their lyricist would also intentionally use longer words than were necessary to avoid sounding too "rock".
Half Japanese were founded in Coldwater, Michigan in 1974 (or '75) by two teenage brothers with no formal musical training. Or interest in formal musical training. Especially chords. To boot, their first full album was a triple-LP set.
Suicide were formed by an organist and a performance artist in 1970 as a kind of free jazz outfit, and were probably the first band to self-identify as "punk". The New York duo's music was so weird and abrasive that no studio would touch them until 1977.
Vaguely Interesting Trivia Time: The Boss threatened to walk off his label unless they agreed to sign Suicide, which became their first contract. Aside from aforementioned live cover, several songs show a clear influence, most notably State Trooper from Nebraska.
Another very early (pre-'77) "punk" group, Talking Heads, simply fit the WAT trope to a T...
The Australian "little bands" scene of the late '70s and early '80s is a STANZA among STANZAs.
Faith No More. Their music is very weird. The weirdest project is Mr Bungle, a band that sometimes changing genres several times within a song.
New wave band The B-52s. They have a couple normal songs, but the vast majority of their stuff falls squarely into WAT territory. These are the minds that gave us "Rock Lobster".
Noise and Noise Rock, while not especially popular there, are much more mainstream in Japan than in many other countries, if only because said country has been producing weird, noisy groups like Les Rallizes Dénudés and Hijokaidan since The Sixties and Seventies. Which, technically, predates both genres.
Japanese chiptune DJ Higedriver doesn't fall into this with his more widely known work, which are primarily amazing non-vocal chiptunes. But you take a look at some of his other albums, and you're finding songs like "2nd Massachusetts love platoon"
Split Enz was a case of a band actually trying to be as Widget-y as possible (Weird New Zealand Thing more precisely), though later subverted as they eventually got fed up with their Widget status. Even then, they still retained a sense of Australasian quirkiness right to the end.
Yet another shining gem from Japan is Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's PONPONPON song; complete with ducks, eyeballs, bread, dancing pink lunchladies with raspberries for heads, and pterodactyls that circle the Tokyo tower. And that's not even covering the weird parts.
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band were a WBFT in the 60s before Monty Python existed, and have been cited as a major influence on Python. (Neil Innes later went on to work with Python, The Rutles and Terry Gilliam, while Vivian Stanshall had a less successful career performing comic monologues that were even weirder.)
Gorillaz are most definitely a Weird British Thing. The band consists of a blue haired, pain killer addicted lead singer with no eyes, a green skinned alcoholic satanist bass player, a young Japanese Tyke Bomb guitarist mailed to them when she was ten, a drummer from Brooklyn with a Demonic Possession issue, and a homicidal cyborg version of the aforementioned guitarist. They have such adventures as trying to blow up 300 ft. elk, fighting off the zombies that reside outside their studio, and escaping deals with the Devil by hiding out on an island made entirely of plastic floating in the ocean. Oh, and they technically don't even exist.
Jonny Jakobsen, also known as Dr. Bombay, Dr. Macdoo and Carlito, is a case of really weird Sweden-made music. A notable Fauxreigner.
To many, Rush qualify as a Weird Canadian Thing. Political undertones in long-winded, wordy lyrics all wrapped up in a crispy Power Trio shell, while their singer/bassist/keyboardist sings at such a pitch that it takes a few listens to figure out whether he's male or female.
Black Sabbath qualified as a Wabbit when they first popped up. Heavy metal was brand new and apparently, at least once, one of their very first songs during an early concert sent half the audience running out of the venue screaming. And despite being hated at first, they've been Vindicated by History and are now widely hailed as the fathers of heavy metal, with each of the original members (and one replacement) being called a virtuoso or musical genius in his own right.
Little Fyodor is a world-class W(H?)AT, with frenetic/manic music verging on outsider art.
Magma, with its militaristic nonsense chants, bizarre polyrhythms, and vaguely Hubbard-esque philosophical underpinnings, is one of the most notorious examples of musical WTF. Tokyo-based quintet Koenji Hyakkei, who wear their Magma influence on their sleeves, may be the only known example of Widget filtered through WTF.
Doctor Steel was both weird and humorous. (How could "babies with buzzsaws" be anything else?)
Man With A Mission. Japanese? Check. Weird? Well, they constantly wear wolf masks and claim to be wolf-human hybrids created in a laboratory many years ago...
Die Antwoord could be classed as a WSAT (Weird South African Thing).
Japanese pop groups composed of cute teenage girls, such as Morning Musume and other Hello! Project groups, come across to Western audiences as Weird Japanese Things.
Hangry & Angry, with Hitomi Yoshizawa and Rika Ishikawa from Morning Musume, qualify as well.
The Avalanches create absolutely weird music out of intense sampling. Frontier Psychiatrist is possibly the most iconic example of the indescribable weirdness they create. Just take a look.
The Fox by two Norwegian talk show hosts is one of these. The song consists of a man wondering what foxes communicates - as apparently it's a complete mystery to the human species - followed by a chorus of frantic "fox noises" (gibberish). The music video consists of people in animal costumes dancing in the woods. It manages to be hilarious and horrific at the same time.
Baby Metal is the result of combining Japanese idol pop music with heavy metal of all things. And making it actually sound good.
Ween is a definite WHAT, with weird lyrics and subject matter.
Brazilian funk is pretty weird in itself (a WBF?) but is still a mostly authentic expression of life in the slums. Brazilian funk from Curitiba, on the other hand, takes everything weird in the genre, the openly sexual but silly-sounding lyrics, the repetitive samples and sound bites and the very liberal use of profanity and takes it Up to Eleven it's Played for Laughs mostly.
The whole Black Metal genre counts as a Norwegian version of this, with its unconventional song structures and often corpse paint faced musicians. Immortal is perhaps the most widget example in the genre, due to their not-so-serious music videos and narmy song lyrics.
Can was a PEGS band. The core of the band were classical and jazz musicians, some of whom were students of Karleinz Stockhausen. They sounded pretty much like you'd expect jazz and experimental musicians who played rock and roll to.
Finntroll is a weird Finnish thing. They're primarily a cross between humppa (a Finnish variety of polka) and black and death metal, who sing songs in Swedish about how much fun it is to be a troll, smash villages and terrorize Swedes. They also have a fondness for dressing in steampunk troll outfits and for instruments like the kazoo and the banjo.
The Knight Life, a Life Embellished webcomic with a tendency towards parody, is very much a WHAT. Such characters as a housewife who puts on an armless costume and fights crime as "The Masked Maggot," or a lowlife who works as a human rug and can identify shoes by how they press into his back, make sense if and only if one's familiar with the parts of American culture they're mocking.
Paranoia is a crowning example of American absurdity at its finest.
Maid The RPG. Original flavour Japanese weirdness in RPG form.
Hol: Human Occupied Landfill. Hand-written in several late-night sessions in an IHOP, and originally offered no character creation since "everyone just makes the same types of characters over and over again". When character creation was included in the expansion, stat rolling included several strange and useless abilities, such as an "Almond Joy" stat. ("Roll 1-3: Sometimes you feel like a nut. Roll 4-6: Sometimes you don't.")
A lot of card-carrying mad genius Jenna Moran's (best known for Nobilis and Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine) non-commercial pet projects are just straightforwardly weird. One that's currently on hiatus is about mischievous little fairies and has a task resolution system based off circuit diagrams and predicate logic.
Experimental / indie / made for contest [RPGs] in general. From "Appliance Adventure" (a game about intelligent, talking household appliances) to "Get Out of Infernopolis" (storytelling gameified UNO where there is only one player / soul and everybody else is a GM / petty demon who makes the one player's life miserable).
If you regardless keep soldiering on, eventually the game quits on itself. Actually, this is a result of the game (intentionally) causing the textures to become increasingly corrupted as the it goes on to the point where it can't handle it anymore.
Suda 51 is rather famous for directing many games that could fit into this category.
No More Heroes would qualify featuring an upside down boss battle and a boss battle using gimps as baseballs among other things.
Not to mention the fact that the game centers around a guy who bought a lightsaber on eBay...
Killer7. Full of Mind Screw moments, having even a very unorthodox gameplay, surreal graphics and sound, and being gratuitously violent and depraved. These aspects have made the game very niche, though not without a Cult Classic status.
Lollipop Chainsaw seems to be a serious WJT contender. Considering how you kill zombies with a chainsaw-toting cheerleader and have rainbows coming out of them...
Nazi Zombies: Four crazed soldiers fight against zombies in Germany, Japan, USSR, the Arctic, Shangri la, the moon, and post apocalyptic Earth.
Super Mario Bros.: This is a game series in which you play as an Italian plumber and have to repeatedly rescue a princess from an evil turtle-dragon, while fighting off his armies of walking mushrooms, talking bombs, and bumper-car-like turtles. To help in your quests, you get such things as leaves that turn into raccoon-suits which give you flight, flowers that shoot fire balls, mushrooms that make you grow, and an Extreme Omnivore dinosaur that you can ride. The reason such weirdness doesn't really get addressed by fans all that often is because 1)At the time the original was made, video games rarely made sense to begin with, and 2)Although the former is no longer the case today its long-standing popularity has gotten people used to it.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong was developed by the Redmond, Washington-based Nintendo Software Technology Corporation, making it an example of a WHAT sub-series to the above. The games involve Mario facing Donkey Kong after the latter wants some of the Mini-Mario toys the former produced.
Mario Kart 7 was partially developed by Nintendo EAD in Japan and partially by the Austin, Texas-based Retro Studios, making it both a WJT and a WHAT.
The French role-playing game Bound by Flame isn't especially bizarre but it is also a strong contender for the darkest western RPG ever to see commercial release, quite a step outside the norm in overseas markets.
Rhythm Heaven, otherwise known as Rhythm Tengoku, which is like WarioWare, except weirder, more musical and more Japanese. In fact, Rhythm Heaven and WarioWare are both made by the same studio, and it shows. And in the former there's a factory that makes literal widgets.
Gitaroo Man is another... interesting video game example.
As said above, Katamari Damacy is a big blatant WJT. Namco is aware enough of this trope that the later games intentionally play up the weirdness.
NiGHTS Into Dreams could be considered an example of this - some of the weirdness comes from the fact it's about dreams, of course, but you can bet if it had been made in the West they wouldn't have gone half as weird, no matter what the subject matter demanded. Plus, the western-marketed sequel is considerably more generic.
Super Galedic Hour seems to be a recreation of some kind of game show, but it's hard to be sure when one of the events is Butt Sumo, and all the contestants are voluptuous women in skimpy animal costumes. It really has to be seen to be believed.
Lemmings (DMA Design), Worms (Team17) and Blast Corps (Rare) probably all count as W.B.T.s (Weird British Things... wabbits?)
LittleBigPlanet is definitely a Wabbit. Ignoring the fact that the levels take place on a world made from people's dreams, the characters include a carboard Leonardo da Vinci wearing 3D glasses, a sexy nurse with an apple for a head and a depressed, cowardly calendar ... whose facial expressions are drawn in ink but can change.
Arcana Heart, one of the few cute-schoolgirl fighters that plays well as a game, and the only one ever that made it to American consoles.
Rewrite isn't as extreme as some examples but it is definitely quite surreal.
Incredible Crisis is about a family that has the worst day ever trying to get home early for Grandma's birthday. You live through each family member's day (The father Taneo, mother Etsuko, son Tsuyoshi, and the daughter Ririka) and guide them through ridiculous scenarios by playing minigames, including, but not limited to, Taneo chased through office hallways by a giant globe, Etsuko fighting a twenty-story tall stuffed bear in a jet fighter, Tsuyoshi shrunk to the size of an insect and escaping a gigantic mantis, and Ririka riding a bicycle to escape from a giant wrecking ball.
The freeware game Arm Joe, a 2D fighting game based on Les Misérables. It has, in addition to the standard cast of characters; PonPon, a Mini-Cooper driving rabbit from another dimension, Robo-Jean (who shoots lasers out of his chest, fires rocket punches and lightning bolts), and the physical embodiment of the concept of Judgment in the book.
Tenkomori Shooting (1998, Namco) is all about "shooting", but is a minigame compilation and WJT. Little easy on the 'weird', but hey, it's about monkeys doing minigames to rescue their friends; that's as weird as it needs to be!
Doshin The Giant probably qualifies, especially the sequel, where you must save Doshin by pissing on things, and running around the show floor of a business convention pissing floaty pink hearts at the booth babes.
Chibi-Robo. Gi FT Pi A. Let's face it. ALL of skip Ltd.'s games fall under this trope. It's most telling when they use the popular idea of a Cross Over video game to make Captain Rainbow, about the title character and his Secret Identity Nick helping out second-rate Nintendo characters get their wishes granted.
Gun Nac, Compile's parody of their own past shooters. Its stages are based on the Japanese days of a week, with appropriate enemies. So the first stage, being the Moon stage, has you fighting robotic Moon Rabbits that fire carrots at you. The second stage, being the Fire stage, puts you against giant match boxes and cigarette lighters. The third stage, being the Water stage, pits your ship against umbrellas and a giant mermaid. And so on...
The Parodius series, which plays like the Gradius games, except nowhere in the Gradius series can you play as a torpedo-riding Playboy Bunny who blasts a fifty-foot tall Vegas showgirl while dodging incoming fire from giant penguins.
Chulip. One Let's Play thread author even prefaces his introduction to the game as "Violently Japanese". The object of the game? To kiss as many things as possible.
Dynamite Headdy is definitely a widget, although some of the more aggressively widgety elements were excised in the North American and European localizations.
Ace Attorney owes its success to lots of curious people wondering what the hell the Japanese were thinking making a game based entirely around wacky, over-the-top lawyers. The excellent localization helped, too. In Japan it's not seen as so odd because it's pretty true to the Japanese Court system.
Sin and Punishment: Successor To The Earth for the N64. Since it arrived here, albeit seven years late, it should qualify. Its sequel (which did make the jump to American shores), somewhat less so.
The Ganbare Goemon (aka Mystical Ninja) games started out as semi-serious Jidai Geki adventure-comedies, but got considerably weirder in the 1990s. One of the plots is preventing Japan from being Westernized by Admiral Perry who looks exactly like Hulk Hogan and all of his mooks are in bunny costumes. The two localized N64 games provide a good sample of its craziness.
You obviously haven't seen the rest of cactus's games. They're all weird.
Violent Storm is a pastiche of Post-Apoc locales with post-apoc punks and all kinds of weirdness culminating in a boss battle with a pre-fetus Tetsuo expy. And his bodyguard gives KEFKA a run for his money on the ridiculous-looking bishie clown angle, looking like an effeminate Blanka. There's also a Shout-Out to Cho Aniki with Julius the bodybuilder, possibly the funniest 'stampeding fat guy' enemy type ever created, the lollypops (yes that's their name. Like Andore, they come in regular and Jr. varieties), a Ninja Turtle expy in Sledge, a train conductor with a gigantic ticket puncher, and cameos by a few of the programmers who can be beaten up and knocked off the stage. And on said train stage, there's a momma pig with little baby pigs walking around. The baby pigs can be picked up, and when thrown become FOOTBALLS. (the American kind)
Battle Circuit from Capcom is a lesser widget entry than the above, focusing more on anime/game references than the weirdness, though the final boss and Dr.Saturn more than make up for it. And one of the characters is a little girl riding a pink ostrich wearing an eyepatch. The ostrich, not the girl. And the ostrich is MALE. Also for no apparent reason one of the bosses is an Elvis impersonator.
The MOTHER is an odd case - the west interprets it quite clearly as a WJT series, yet it was originally designed to be viewed as an American-style series from a Japanese perspective. The first game's weirdness isn't particularly Japanese, but then thesequels became Denser and Wackier.
Monster Party features the most bizarre assortment of Everything Trying to Kill You, including a Sequential Boss that starts as a shrimp and turns into an onion ring and then a kebab. Bandai never released the game in Japan; it sold poorly in America, probably on account of its awful gameplay mechanics.
Project Rub (aka Feel The Magic: XY/XX) is absolutely mindboggling. At one point you have to get some goldfish out of a man's stomach, at another you follow a helicopter on a unicycle, and at another you dance with a girl at a campsite (incorporating the fire into your moves), and at yet another you have to bowl a man rolled into a ball at some people waiting for a bus. As you can probably guess, those who do buy the game are in for a real treat.
Also see The Rub Rabbits, the sequel/prequel, in which you meet your true love, win her over, defend her from other suitors (who dance, or parachute from the sky), and fend off the advances of a perky schoolgirl. You do this by running up the down escalator while dodging sumo wrestlers, paddling a log across a giant-crocodile-infested sea, eating delicious cakes (and avoiding the bad ones) while tied to a chair, closing the rapid-fire pop-ups on her computer, doing aromatherapy to help her do yoga, and fighting a mecha-bear.
Pop N Music would lose half its charm without its silly cast of characters, including but not limited to: the rabbit- and cat-like mascots, a Cute Witch who can turn her broom into a guitar, a girl who continuously runs left really fast as if hopped up on sugar, an angel disguised as a Hot Librarian, and a DJ who occasionally communicates with some sort of devilish spirit. And on top of that, the multicolored notes all have eyes and are called "Pop-kuns."
Toss The Turtle. Get a turtle, a cannon, your Gun Of Choice, and add several crazy things like smoking French phoenix-like birds, bananas who can shoryuken the shit out of you, and angry ground creatures with a tenuous hold on their sanity, all for the purpose of getting cash, and you got something that is a grade-A WHAT.
The entire Bomberman franchise. To recap: An absurdly cute robot with more than enough explosives to make even theMythBusterssqueal with joy saving the world (or the universe) on a regular basis. Enemies include: homicidal balloons, giant coins that can phase through walls, your evil twin, Wario, a different evil twin, a furry BDSM mistress with a giant robot that shoots eye lasers, entire teams made up of evil twins, a bodybuilder with Cool Shades, and what some may argue is you in the future. This isn't even touching Multiplayer, by the way.
Flower definitely belongs here since it's a game about opening flowers and the inability to lose.
Similarly, Endless Ocean, which embraces the player doing things at his own leisure and does little to nothing to penalize him. It even got mocked by professional reviewers for not including such expected things as a life gauge, weapons, or a point.
Another Weird Swedish Thing is Garden Gnome Carnage. The premise: You're a garden gnome tied to a building on wheels, and you're trying to hold off elves from dropping Christmas presents into the chimney (because gnomes hate holidays) by swinging into them and dropping bricks on them, in addition to the occasional air strike. Oh, and this game was made by Daniel Remar (of Iji and Hero Core fame).
Parodied in The Simpsons Game. Big Super Happy Fun Fun Game is a stage built entirely from references to Ōkami, Pokémon, and Katamari Damacy, while also using series gags like Mr. Sparkle. Furthered when every character explicitly notes it as being in Japan, much to Homer's frustration.
"Okay, so we're in Japan. But I'm not eating any sushi, unless it's covered in chocolate and there's no sushi in it!"
Vib-Ribbon - You control a rabbit wandering across a mobius strip dodging random obstacles that appear in time with the music. Oh, and despite being made in the late 90's, everything is using vector graphics like it's the early 80's. And you can make your own levels by putting in your own CDs. It's proof positive that WJTs and minimalism are quite happy together.
Tail Of The Sun - You lead a tribe of cavemen in building a tower out of mammoth tusks tall enough to reach the sun.
Vegetable Game. As far as we can tell, it's about a crudely-drawn bear hugging escalatingly bad people, from "Jaywalker" up to "Adolf Hitler". No vegetables involved at all. Also, the game repeatedly tells you not to play it.
While the Bangai O series itself qualifies, its first installment is the best example. The giant robot action may not be nonsensical, but the plot, characters and dialogue certainly are.
Neptunia is an Eastern RPG series in which moe girls are various video game consolesnote the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, and the scrapped Sega Neptune fighting the Console Wars, as envisioned by Sega, Idea Factory and Compile Heart. They get stronger the more market share they earn for the console they represent. The villains, by and large, are very stylized Anthropomorphic Personifications or various aspects of piracy.
Patapon is about a tribe of eyeballs-on-stickleg warriors who essentially believe the player is their god on account of the player possessing a drum. They wish for the player to guide them to Earthend so they may gaze upon "IT" and know eternal contentment, but they don't even know what IT is. Everyone not a Patapon is convinced that gazing upon IT will bring the world to an end.
The localization of Samurai Zombie Nation changed the player character, tasked with defending the United States from an Eldritch Abomination, from a floating tengu mask into a floating samurai head, disguising its WJT-ness not one bit.
DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu's console-exclusive Arrange B mode is this for scoring system buffs. Enemies that change bullet patterns and point values as the player plays more, lots of Smart Bombing (even moreso than most 8ing/Raizing games), enough bomb recharging to make the announcer ask "Are you ready?" over and over, among other things that break many established shmup conventions.
Hatoful Boyfriend is about a human hunter-gatherer girl who goes to a high school for pigeons and doves, and discovers romance along the way.
Namco's Wagyan Land, a Platform Game where you fight with projectile katakana and bosses try to defeat you with shiritori.
To further drive the point home, one of the main characters is a frail blind girl who uses a naked crystal fairy as a sword, another one is an artificial Hermaphrodite half god. Also in one of the final battle's you fight a kitten togheter with the spirit's of four dead children inside a computer system of some sort.
Sonic the Hedgehog, a game series where you play as a hardcore blue hedgehog with Super Speed, who must foil the evil plans of an egg-shaped mad scientist resembling the late Teddy Roosevelt (who tends to trap small animals inside his robot soldiers). All while frequently running through loop-de-loops. Some of the said hedgehog's friends include a two-tailed fox and a red echidna that can glide. As Sonic was intentionally modelled after cartoon characters from The Golden Age of Animation to appeal to a Western audience, this essentially qualifies the series as a WAT made by Japanese developers. Of course, much like its rival franchise, its popularity (outside of Japanese borders) has helped people get used to it to this day.
The remake of Sonic the Hedgehog CD is an example of UMM (unusual multicultural media) due to being a collaboration with a Western developer and the game's Japanese owner. Considering the above examples, it also comes across as pretty odd that there was an era where the series tried to take itself seriously, especially with the plots of Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow the Hedgehog, and Sonic The Hedgehog 2006, which really made it hard to take any of it seriously, considering the above's description of the series, and only further served to add to the Broken Base, though since Sonic Colors and games in the series after it the series has seemed to become more closer in tone to its weird roots.
Umihara Kawase is a game where you control a schoolgirl using a lure on rubber line to maneuver through Bizarrchitecture stages with multiple pathways, and avoiding various species of aquatic life, including fish with legs.
Bunny Must Die! Chelsea and the 7 Devils, a game where you play a playboy bunnygirl cursed with cat ears, and that can manipulate time, who fights such enemies as a photorealistic picture of a cat and an expy of Dracula that spouts Zero Wing quotes and inflicts instant death by flashing you. Those are just some of the named characters, never mind some of the mooks.
Trio the Punch is a bizarre Beat 'em Up where, among other weird things, the continue screen shows a statue that suddenly acquires a clown mask, a defenseless turtle turns into a human boss, you and your weapons turn into pink sheep after defeating a pink sheep, Colonel Sanders turns into a purple bird, and "WEEBLES FALL DOWN!"
Ōkami is arguably a strong example of this, given it is heavily reliant on Japanese Mythology, with an incredible number of references to its source material backing the claim up. Despite the very real threat constantly present in the plot, it is not afraid of, and in fact gladly, embraces every single chance of humor it can afford, which are aplenty. This game is just as humorous as it is epic; it was actually quite-well received by Westerners due to its extremely appealing visuals, Crowning Music of Awesome and compelling characters, story and system—it was in fact quite a lot LESS well-received in its home country, largely in part due to the fact that the Japanese didn't find their own mythos so interesting.
OFF is a WTF freeware game about a baseball player who wants to exorcise Bedsheet Ghosts from Wackyland. Up until the halfway mark of Zone 3 where it takes a very dark turn.
Some of Atari Corp.'s games (particularly under Jack Tramiel's leadership) definitely qualify as WATs (Weird Atari Things?). Two of the most notable are Ninja Golf for the Atari 7800, which combines golf with a side-scrolling fighting game, and Kung Food for the Atari Lynx, where the player is a miniaturized scientist who must battle mutant vegetables in his refrigerator.
I'm Sorry, a 1985 arcade Maze Game that is as weird as it is obscure. The game's title turns out to be a bilingual pun at the expense of Japan's former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, and enemies are Super-Deformed celebrities.
Insaniquarium, where you raise fish in your own fish tank! Fish that... poop money? Which are also preyed upon by random aliens that occasionally warp inside your tank. Which you fight off using a laser gun. Yep, Insaniquarium is a WHAT alright.
Pole No Daibouken is probably one of the weirdest Mario-style games ever. It stars a cowboy with shades as he battles evil deer-men, lions that can go Super Saiyan, volcanoes that launch random debris, giant snakes, squids, penguins, aliens, numerous messed up gags and eventually some unholy mashup of a lion, a snake, a squid, a giant bear and a frigging chihuahua and holy hell what the fuck is this?
Panzer Front bis's story mode, if the bizarre cutscenes, and that one level where you fight a demon Tiger tank, are any indications.
Dynamite Dux has two Funny Animals setting off to rescue their owner from a weird-looking wizard named "Achacha" through a variety of strange and colorful landscapes, battling other animals along the way.
Rock Star Ate My Hamster is an example of a Wabbit. It's a British Rockstar management simulator, with all the insanity that implies.
The Japan World Cup series. Non-interactive horse races. Only most of contestants aren't horses. Mounts include an elephant, a seal, a panda, a two-person horse costume and so on. Jockeys employ various techniques to boost their mount or hamper enemies, from dancing naked to rocket jumping. Each game is stranger than the last, and each one only gets weirder the longer you watch. The upright sideways running horse is probably the second most normal thing you'll see:
Putty is a British game that shows that Japan has no monopoly on Platform Games with colorful, cheerfully outlandish environments.
Ribbit King fits into this easily. Not only is the concept of its sport very strange (you play "Frolf", which—ah, hell, look at the page for more information), it also has among its characters a campy blue-lipped alien, a floating dog-ghost, coloured seeds, a robotic penguin, a panda who claims to know kung-fu (sounds familiar?), a character (the protagonist) who coincidentally looks like Finn and a goddamn picnic basket. It also comes with a bonus disc of short outlandish movies of the characters just to rub it in. It's a bit surprising this made it outside of Japan, really.
Splatoon is an arena-based Third-Person Shooter game where you use Family-Friendly Firearms to spread paint around the level while keeping the opposing team from spreading more paint than your team. You also play as "Inklings," entities made of living paint who can morph between humanoid and squid forms, the latter of which lets them swim through the paint they've spread and jump all the way to the other side of the arena.
The Touhou fan video, Border of extacy by IOSYS is a widget with illogical pixellated imagery. Let's just extend that to "Half of all touhou-related songs and music videos" rather than list examples for half a page. Though some make more or less sense than others.
Llamas with Hats is, to put it simply, a series of videos describing the adventures of a psychopathic llama who visits and devastates a South American city, sinks a cruise ship, and nukes an entire city. All the while, his squeakily-voiced friend with a flowery hat voices his concern and condemns the madman's orphan-dooming actions by crying CAAAAAAARL! Repeatedly.
The Italian Spiderman series on YouTube is a STANZA. It is filmed in English, dubbed into Italian and then subtitled back into English. As well as being a parody, its' plot is fairly nonsensical, and it features various wonders such as surf-offs derailed by attacking penguins, and detachable exploding boomerang moustaches.
Homestar Runner. All crazy retro pop culture references, all the time. And are those guys supposed to be people or what?
Sweet Cuppin' Cakes is an in-universe example.
The ASDF Movie series is a rather odd series of sketches not tied together at all that involves potatos with guns, throwing cheese at aliens and "doing an internet".
Although the plots in Neopets tend to be a bit more serious, the site itself has a LOT of weirdness. And that's why people love it.
Dutch Youtuber Massagraf. He usually makes YouTube Poops of Belgian kids' shows, which can (at times) be rather weird. An even weirder thing, however, is his Samsonimatie series, in which he takes characters from Samson En Gert and makes them do ridiculous things, such as drinking each other's heads through a straw. And if that's not weird enough for you, there's also vogeltje.
The Animutation genre can best be described as an American attempt at imitating widgets.
Axe Cop. What actually happens in the comic is weird enough, but when you factor in that the writer is a six-year-old boy, it truly achieves WHAT status.
Listening To 11975 M Hz is made by a Texan who is also a marine. You really, really would not guess that by reading it if you're going by stereotypes.
Homestuck is fairly internally coherent, but the extremely unusual storytelling, as well as the sheer absurdity of the plot, definitely qualifies it as a WHAT.
Mountain Time is about as WHAT as it gets, what with its constantly-derailing story lines, characters that range from astronauts to neurotic hamsters to Jewish garden hoses, and settings that are often nonsensical (such as clouds that turn into hams).
Freakazoid!. If you're a newcomer to the show, and not tearing your hair out in frustration, crying "WHAT!? THE!? HELL?!?" by the time the chimpanzee line rolls around in its opening theme, then you should probably check yourself into the nearest psychiatric ward. And that's just one of the many, MANY oddities that this show likes to throw at you.
Avez-vous déjà vu... ? is a Weird Thing from France (W.T.F.) that can easily beat FLCL and Azumanga Daioh for the title of the weirdest series in the world. Although it seems like all the information about this... strangeness... is in French, you can find some videos on the Internet by googling the title. It was made by Alain Chabat, who's considered as king of the weird in France.
Regular Show has the tagline "It's anything but [regular]". The events that happen in the episode are very surreal, and their resolutions more so. It also has its In-Universe widget anime: Planet Chasers Starlight Excellent. It's so nonsensical, it traps your mind within the videotape.
The Amazing World of Gumball is this in terms of animation (a mix of stop-motion, compuet-generated effects and traditional animation), characters (the protagonist is a blue cat with an orange fish as his brother, and his parents are a pink bunny married with another blue cat; his schoolmates include a Tyrannosaurus rex, a paper-made gal, a female cactus and a cloud) and events (very silly incidents that are taken too seriously).
Black Dynamite, which focuses on fantastically warped versions of characters from out-of-date African American culture and just plain weirdness.
Chapi Chapo , a Weird French Thing, consists of the playful adventures of two small... children that manipulate innumerable boxes, and sometimes even physical laws.
Fireman Sam (a series about a small Welsh village in which pretty much everything is A Job For The Fire Service) originated in Wales as Sam Tân (tân being Welsh for fire, which is quite ironic seeing as Sam's job is to put out fires, so translated it could be Fire Sam).
Any episode of Teen Titans that begins with its theme song in Japanese is pretty much this. Especially the one where it is sung by a one shot, otaku character, according to Andrea Romano's comments in a DVD Easter Egg.
The Fleischer Studios with pretty much anything they did. There's a ghost of a walrus singing a song written by Cab Calloway, rotoscoped from Cab Calloway's dancing; as well as Koko the Clown's antics. Counts as a W.E.N.T, or "Weird Early Nineteen-hundreds Thing."
How about "Weird Early Twentieth Century Animated Thing" (W.E.T.C.A.T.)?
Parodied in The Simpsons, when an already manically bizarre promotional videotape for the Japanese cleaning product Mr. Sparkle includes, for no apparent reason, a brief clip of a reporter asking a two-headed cow, "Any plans for summer?"
Then the cow shatters with a look of horror on its face(s) upon viewing Mr. Sparkle.
Some Tom and Jerry cartoons would probably count, since only jazz music was an instant hit worldwide and the culture took a little time to catch up, and also purely American-centric television tropes like Mammy Two-shoes. (Granted, on that second part, minstrel show anything would count. Droopy had a crapload of those kinds of jokes.) Not that they didn't exist in other countries, it just existed in different forms. Errr, is there a trope for humour that plain doesn't translate well?
Les Renés, another Weird Thing from France, a series about a cyclop family, created by the French artist Hervé Di Rosa.
One of the earliest French CGI series, Chipie & Clyde, a series about a selfish wolf called Clyde who live in a loft and his antagonist, a girl called Chipie, who is able to send him by magic to make a test each time he says the F word.
in the same case, Les Quarxs, a scientist who shows some weird creatures that came from nowhere which caused him some serious problems in his work.
"You're watching the Family Learning Channel. And now, angry ticks fire out of my nipples."
South Park occasionally veers into this territory, especially in its more nonsensical episodes.
In the directors' commentary of FLCL, the director and the interviewer commented that South Park comes across as a big-time Widget Series in Japan since so many of the popular culture references are lost.
The 80's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a Widget series to anyone familiar with the original Mirage Comics. (and let's be honest, the premise itself is pretty widget-y).
Oscar's Orchestra on CBBC. Set in the very distant future, about a group of sentient music instruments (Oscar is a grand blue piano, and their leader) fighting the music-hating world dictator Thaddius Vent.
Jacob Two-Two is very much a wicket. It includes major references to hockey, is set in Montreal, has an explicitly stated Quebecois character, and has assignments about Canadian explorers. Not to mention the Canadian style of humour in the show.
Due to Society Marches On, many cartoons from the 1930s and '40s are becoming this. We're beginning to WHAT ourselves.
Gravity Falls: Twin Peaks style supernatural animated weirdness, and on Disney to boot.
Most small Toyotas since about 2000 have this to some extent or another. Matter of fact, on the international front, ridiculous little dinky cars and hatchbacks from all around the world are perceived this way by Americans.note This is starting to lessen somewhat in more densely-populated American cites like New York City, due to the sheer impossibility of finding reasonably-priced parking there. The ultimate example is the autorickshaw, a demented little car-thing built around a motorcycle.
A western example is the short-lived Yggdrasil 'green' motorcycles. We can't link to an example, unfortunately, as the website has been down for about two years. If you've played or seen screenshots of the game series Xtreme G, they resembled those cycles but only went about 140-170kph and were sold in small numbers in mainland Europe as an environmentally conscious alternative to move from point A to B. They were cheap to buy, but annoyingly expensive to maintain, and attempts to sell them elsewhere were met with confusion and head scratching elsewhere (and even at home) due to the way-too-futuristic designs and odd seating arrangement. (ridden as if you were straddling a rocket Wile E Coyote style).
Microcars/small cars in general and Smart cars in particular may also be seen this way in North America. This is caused by Japanese and European car makers not bothering to sell their microcars and more left-field models in North America in a self-fulfilling cycle of lack of demand from lack of products from lack of demand... Conversely, a lot of places in the rest of the world perceives their relative absence and the preponderance of big sedans, pickup trucks, and SUVs for city dwellers as just as strange. The last few years have however seen SUVs getting commonplace in Europe, so the trend might be changing.
The whole Morgan car company is a weird British Car Company: two-seat roadsters with a 1930s design and wooden chassis? Three wheelers with the one wheel at the back?◊. A car with crossed eyes◊? Jeremy Clarkson did a thorough investigation of the phenomenon of British sports cars and their drivers here, noting the irony of a country infamous for its wet, chilly weather being the home of a car that seems meant to be driven on warm, sunny days.
In one of his solo feature-length DVD releases, Top Gear star Jeremy Clarkson has also introduced many British and American gearheads to this DOT (Dutch Oddity of Transportation), the Vandenbrink Carver. It was subsequently reviewed on Top Gear proper by the Hamster here.
Men With Brooms is possibly more Weirdly Canadian than Kids in the Hall. It's a sports comedy about curling, that also features Paul Gross, Leslie Nielsen (as a retired curling guru and hallucinogenic mushroom enthusiast), a guest appearance by Canadian rock group The Tragically Hip, a bagpiper in a kilt with no explicit connection to the plot, and a running gag involving beavers.
Cirque du Soleil. This Weird French-Canadian Thing first caught attention in the U.S. because it was so different from the long-established, Ringling Bros.-dominated circus format. No animal acts, one ring, little dialogue, New Age/world music, etc. It actually took a lot of inspiration, and later performers, from established European and Asian circuses, but managed to make its own artistic statements and remain distinctive, to the point that their overall style has spawned its own imitators (By the way, the Japanese love Cirque, to the point that the non-touring show ZED was created for Tokyo Disneyland). Their 2003 TV show Solstrom is a true Widget Series: a mostly silent fantasy series that links acrobatic and novelty acts together via whimsical stories involving mischievous "sun creatures" (characters from the various stage shows) running amuck on Earth.
"Hitsuji de Oyasumi" is a series of short talk CDs featuring various Japanese voice actors Counting Sheep. Not just a few sheep, either; most of the albums go to 400, plus short openings and closings and occasional other mid-count comments. There are at least 22 volumes of this.
Douglas Adams himself alluded to how much cricket is a Weird British Game in Life, the Universe and Everything with the commentators of Test Match Special not at all fazed by Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and a sofa appearing from nowhere on the pitch at Lord's. And only the British would be so insensitive to use the hallowed 'Wicket Gate' as part of a game.
Although books of humorous stories and "laws" about how things go horribly wrong are a somewhat common genre, The Peter Principle, with its punny names and fantastically banal "case studies", is not only the most famous but the most uniquely wickety of all of them. (It was, however, inspired by Parkinsons Law, a hilariously turgid Wabbit.)
Japanese Bento Lunch Tools. Ever see egg molds? Take a boiled egg, while it's still hot, shell it, and place it into one of these. The resulting shape can be anything from a bunny to a fish to an ice cream cone. There are also ones that essentially makes egg logs with the yolk in varying shapes, such as flower, star, heart etc.
Some comments about the Handley Page Victor◊ bomber run along the lines of "Only the British would make their nuclear deterrent look like that". The same seems to apply to the Avro Vulcan, which also happens to cross into Cool Plane territory.
This weird Estonian thing that gives a person one euro if one Estonian kroon is inserted into it, instead of 15.6466 kroons to one euro. It's a cow.
Ao Usagi's art. A lot of it is Touhou fanart. Some of it is incredibly normal. Sometimes it's a boob in an orange peel.
tykylevits' videos make very little sense until you do some research and find out that, yep, he's from Finland. Then it seems perfectly normal.
The Topp Twins are a STANZA.
Pretty much everything shown on this site, really.
There are also the Japanese vending machines which dispense things like live crabs/lobsters and used panties.
Japan banned vending machines selling used panties quite some time ago. They still pop up every now and then, but they're illegal. If you happen to come across one, chances are it'll be in a really seedy part of town.
American "Christian Media" can come across this way to secular people, even other Americans. Sometime in The Seventies, evangelical Christians in the US became deeply enraptured by the concept of creating alternatives to "secular" pop culture. This grew to encompass literature (the Left Behind series is one of the most visible examples), music, movies, video games, dating sites, and more, to the point where it eventually became an entire separate subculture.
The Japanese have a weird obsession with making as much noise as possible when driving a car or motorbike (even if that noise is the sound of the engine being shredded). They love to rev the crap out of mopeds for no apparent reason.